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Student Q&A: Garret Eickelberg, Driskill Graduate Program in Life Sciences

Garret Eickelberg

Garrett Eickelberg, a fourth-year student in the Driskill Graduate Program in Life Sciences (DGP), investigates antibiotic usage in the intensive care unit, working in the laboratory of Yuan Luo, PhD, associate professor of Preventive Medicine in the Division of Health and Biomedical Informatics, at the McCormick School of Engineering and member of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University.

Read a Q&A with Eickelberg below.

Where is your hometown?

I consider Portland Oregon to be my hometown. It’s where I was born, and although I grew up in Phoenix Arizona, I spent 10 years in Portland prior to moving to Chicago and hope to someday move back.

What are your research interests?

Broadly, my research interests involve designing solutions to common clinical problems using both data science and informatics approaches.

What exciting projects are you working on?

In my dissertation, I focus on trying to help reduce unnecessary or inappropriate antibiotic usage and improve outcomes for patients in the Intensive Care Unit through predictive analytics.

In addition to my dissertation research, I have also been involved in a number of side projects over the past few months. The first of these projects has involved applying a novel natural language processing pipeline called cTAKES to both structured and unstructured clinical data in order to improve diagnosis of Familial Hypercholesterolemia. My other side project involved developing a platform to help automate data cleaning tasks commonly used when cleaning clinical data.

What attracted you to the DGP?

Feinberg School of Medicine was among my top choices for medical school originally, but after a ‘’quarter-life crisis”, I realized I wanted to help improve patient care using data, rather than becoming a clinician. I was delighted to find that they have an equally high caliber Biomedical Informatics doctoral program, and the interview weekend really sold me.

What has been your best experience at Feinberg?

I have had many unique and gratifying experiences so far, but if I had to pick one, I would say the acceptance of my first lead author publication was especially fulfilling.

How would you describe the faculty at Feinberg?

The faculty I have worked with at Feinberg have been phenomenal. In my coursework, all of the professors I worked with were passionate and engaging. As for my mentorship, I couldn’t be happier. My mentors have been there for me at every step of my journey.

Whether I needed some tough love or support, they have always had my back.

What do you do in your free time?

I am a man of many hobbies. I like to cook, rock climb, yoga, and write or play music. Guitar is my main instrument, but recently I finally took the plunge and have been learning drums.

What are your plans for after graduation?

I can see myself working at a large academic medical center and working to help them leverage their clinical data in order to improve patient care or optimize hospital operations.